Keeping the Secret
Alfred Pennyworth was amazing. No one who knew him would argue that fact. As butler of Wayne Manor, he was in charge of coordinating all the day to day issues of running a household. He was also chauffeur, chef, and caretaker to the children in the household (and the number of children seemed to grow every few years). He also had his... other duties that the public didn't know about- being butler to Batman. Despite all this, there were only so many hours in the day, and he couldn't do all that and clean the Manor's 143 rooms on a regular basis.
So every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, an army of maids exited their vans and descended upon the mansion, wielding brooms, mops, and feather dusters. They arrived at 8 AM and they dusted, vacuumed, and cleaned every inch of the Manor.
Today was Marisol's first day at the Wayne mansion. When everyone else piled out of the van, she stopped and stared at the beautiful building. She could see it from her apartment in Gotham, but it looked so much more impressive when it was right in front of her.
"Marisol," barked Mrs. Mendoza, breaking the young woman's thoughts.
"Sí, Señora Mendoza," Marisol said, quickly moving to follow the older woman into the mansion. Marisol had been working at SuperMaids for eight months now. Since Rosario had retired on Friday, Marisol finally had enough seniority to get put on this job.
The dozen maids were greeted at the door by the butler. When she stepped into the foyer, Marisol paused again. The entryway was big enough for her entire apartment to fit, with room to spare! Mrs. Mendoza cleared her throat and gave Marisol a glare. The young woman composed herself immediately. One thing that SuperMaids prided itself on was the ability to take in this kind of opulence without blinking. As if there weren't five items in this room alone that each cost more than her yearly salary.
The butler gave directions to Mrs. Mendoza, who passed them along to the other maids. The other maids had been here hundreds of times, so they went to their assignments, leaving Mrs. Mendoza and Marisol alone in the foyer. "Follow me," the woman said, and Marisol trailed after her, pushing the cart that carried all her cleaning supplies.
They stopped in front of a room. "This is your wing," Mrs. Mendoza said. "Everything must be done by noon. Clean each room in this hallway and then vacuum the hall. Don't break anything. And don't steal anything."
Marisol's face heated up. She would never steal, not from a client or anyone. She opened her mouth to say something when the other woman continued on, "And don't go into the-"
"Señora Mendoza," interrupted Consuela, who came around the corner. "Some of the supplies were left in one of the vans, and it's locked."
Mrs. Mendoza rolled her eyes at the inefficiency. "I'm coming," she said, leaving Marisol behind. Only when the older woman was out of sight did the young woman remember that her directions were incomplete.
"Señora Mendoza!" she called, walking after her boss, but the other woman was gone. Marisol tried to remember the path they took to get to her current location, but was afraid she would get lost. She imagined the butler finding her in Mr. Wayne's master bedroom and shuddered. She would just clean here until Mrs. Mendoza came back to finish her instructions.
Marisol went into the first room on the right side of the hall. She knew that most of the rooms were unused, and only needed a minimal amount of cleaning. It was just a spare bedroom. She washed the windows, dusted the knickknacks (carefully!), and vacuumed. Then she moved to the next room. Mrs. Mendoza still didn't return. Marisol kept waiting to open a room to find something that would show she was not supposed to be there, but all the rooms looked the same. Maybe Mrs. Mendoza wanted to tell her to stay out of something in a different part of the building. As long as Marisol stayed in this hall, she should be fine, she told herself.
She checked her watch and was surprised to see how much time had passed. Marisol hastened to finish. Mrs. Mendoza had seemed serious about the noon deadline. Finally, Marisol entered the last room on this floor. It was a study, and there was a stack of papers on the desk. Marisol hesitated. Was this room off-limits? She stood awkwardly in the doorway for several minutes, sending hopeful glances down the hall that someone would come to give her directions. After another check on the time, Marisol forced herself to step into the room. She held her breath as she cleaned. She hurried, wanting to be done with this so she wouldn't get in trouble for breaking rules she didn't know about.
A large grandfather clock caught her attention. It was beautiful. Marisol admired the dark wood and the polished metal. Then she frowned. That wasn't the right time. She checked her watch again. Gently, she opened the glass and turned the hands. Before she got to the correct time, the hands got stuck. Marisol's heart leaped to her throat when she thought she had broken this antique. Then there was a click and the whole clock swung away from the wall.
She took two quick steps backward, away from the darkness behind the clock. What should she do? Marisol shut the study door and crept back to the clock. She should just move the clock back and forget all about this. But she heard noises and curiosity overcame her. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, Marisol could see stairs. She took a cautious step, and when nothing happened, she continued down into the darkness.
The steps seemed to continue forever, and Marisol almost tripped when they abruptly ended. She could see lights now. A giant computer screen was glowing. She took a step towards it when something more interesting caught her eye. There were glass cases with superhero costumes in it- Batman, Nightwing, Robin. Marisol smiled. So Bruce Wayne was a fan of the vigilantes. She moved right in front of the cases and studied them. The costumes looked so real. They were probably very expensive.
As Marisol turned to go, a glint of light off something metallic grabbed her attention. A car- a shiny, long, black car. So Mr. Wayne had a replica of the Batmobile too? Marisol started to laugh, but then her chuckle caught in her throat. What if it wasn't a replica? She looked back at the costumes. No, it couldn't be...
"Dios mío," she whispered. Mr. Wayne was Batman. Bruce Wayne was Batman. Marisol stumbled up the stairs as quickly as she could. She reached the top and swung the clock to cover the entrance. Her heart thudded in her chest as she grabbed the duster, desperate for something normal, something familiar. She dusted something on the other end of the room, far from that secret-hiding clock. The door opened, revealing Mrs. Mendoza.
"Marisol, what are you doing in here?" Her boss sounded angry. Did she know the secret?
"I'm cleaning," Marisol said, somehow keeping the tremor from her voice.
"Did you touch any of the papers?" Marisol shook her head. "Didn't I tell you to stay out of the study?"
"No, señora. You were called away before you could finish the directions."
Mrs. Mendoza still looked annoyed. "Well, the study is off-limits. Vacuum the hall and leave your cart in the foyer. Then meet in the kitchen."
"Sí, Señora Mendoza." The older woman waited for Marisol to leave the study with her cart, then she shut the door behind them. She gave the younger woman another glare, as if daring her to enter the room again, and then left. Marisol released a breath.
She vacuumed quickly and retraced her steps to the foyer. The other maids were there already. A sick feeling appeared in the pit of her stomach. It looked like none of the other maids were being called to the kitchen. 'Please don't let me be fired,' she prayed. 'I need this job.'
She left her cart with the other maids and, after getting directions from Consuela, went to the kitchen alone. The butler gave her a smile but didn't acknowledge her otherwise. Marisol waited for Mrs. Mendoza. A few minutes later, the woman entered the room with a handsome middle aged man. Mr. Wayne! The two of them were talking and then Mrs. Mendoza gestured toward Marisol. The maid froze. What was she saying to Mr. Wayne? Was she telling him how she went in the study?
The billionaire smiled as he walked over to her. "I'm Bruce Wayne," he said, extending his hand.
"I know who you are, Mr. Wayne." ¡Estúpida! Why would she say that? She swallowed and forced a smile. "I'm Marisol."
"Pleasure to meet you, Marisol. I like to meet all the people who work for me. Sometimes, it feels like a full time job just doing introductions," he laughed.
Marisol kept the smile on her face. "Yes, sir."
"So how was your first day here?"
"I hope you didn't find any skeletons in the closet," Mr. Wayne said. Marisol almost panicked before she realized he was joking.
"No, sir. Only dust bunnies." The billionaire laughed at her joke.
"Well, it's good to have you around. I hope you'll be back?"
Marisol looked around Mr. Wayne at Mrs. Mendoza to see if she was going to fire her. The other woman seemed to have calmed down. "Yes, sir."
"I'll see you around, then." Mr. Wayne shook her hand again, and then went to talk to the butler. Marisol looked to Mrs. Mendoza again.
"I'm glad you didn't embarrass yourself," the woman said. Marisol nodded, but the other woman had already turned away. The maids entered the vans and drove back to the center. Some of the others had an afternoon shift, but Marisol was off until tomorrow.
The young woman focused her attention on running errands for the rest of the afternoon. It was only when night had fallen and she looked out her window that she allowed herself to think of what she had discovered. How could it be that she, a maid, could find out such a major secret? Batman's civilian identity... How many people were dying to know that information? She smiled as she imagined their reactions. For a brief moment, the young woman thought about telling someone. The media would pay handsomely. She wouldn't have to worry about making rent or having enough money for food. The fantasy only lasted a moment, though.
An alarm sounded from a nearby bank. Marisol saw a dark figure racing across the rooftops, cape streaming behind him. She wasn't a superhero, who could leap off buildings and take down criminals. But there was one thing she could do to keep Gotham safe.
"I'll keep your secret," Marisol whispered. The wind stole her words and took them into the night.